Monday, 6 November 2017

Life and Times of a Kiwi Chippie

Kiwi Chippie Peter Groves

The life and times of a Kiwi Chippie…

Peter W,
Thanks heaps for sending that piece by Bryan Bruce. 

Here is Peter G's blog:

"We started off in our marriage in 1960 and I understood implicitly what Bryan was talking about in respect of the help the State provided for Young marrieds such as my wife and I to get on the first rungs of the home ownership ladder.

I was perhaps a little more fortunate than others in my situation, in that I was a chippie working for a Group Housing builder. He developed the sections, on which he would eventually build houses. I think my section cost me the grand sum of 450 quid.

I had already bought a section in neighbouring Carterton, with a view of building my own home there. It didn’t take long for me to recognise the state Advances option was the way to go. I sold the section, and with my savings I was able to rake up the necessary deposit which entitled me to State Advances assistance. Because I was able to supply a lot of my labour in weekends etc. I gained a few concessions from my employer, which reduced the overall cost of the house I eventually built.

We lived in that house for about five years before the disadvantages of Masterton became painfully evident. There was little effective Trade Union activity in the town and employers really had the upper hand. I was a unionist and well aware of my rights.

After working for three different outfits, each of which had little regard for award conditions and union coverage, I gravitated to Rigg-Zschokke Ltd. which was a large scale builder involved in Commercial Buildings, Bridges and similar projects. I shortly found they were completely different to the rank and file opposition and operated in much the same fashion as companies I had worked with in Wellington, namely Fletcher’s which complied in every respect with the conditions and remuneration set out by the awards settled by the Arbitration Processes of the era. Unfortunately Riggs had fallen on difficult times with insufficient forward orders to sustain their workforce, and we were all paid off to go our own ways.

Wairoa today.
My wife came from Wairoa and for quite some time I worked for another builder while we lived with her mother. I kept in touch with the Masterton situation and found from the grape-vine, bush telegraph, whatever, that Wellington was experiencing a building boom, and some of the larger companies were casting their nets wider in the quest for skilled tradesmen. I of course had no hesitation in returning home and joining up with one of the companies Wilkins and Davies which was providing a bus over the hill to Lower Hutt which took some twenty or so to work every morning and home again every evening.

I was fortunate enough to score a job driving the bus there and back, week about with another guy. This entitled me to overtime payments and in those weeks my wages were roughly double those I received as a chippie! It wasn’t too long after that when I joined Public Service, which necessitated a shift to Wellington, meaning the sale of the house in Masterton and purchase of another in Wainuiomata.

A promotion came through and I was up for a transfer to Palmerston North.
For the early part of our residence we were living in a Pool House at the rental by the authorities. In 1970 a further promotion saw my return to Wellington and another Pool House which gave us a low rent option while we considered the purchase of yet another house. This eventually happened in 1976, and we lived there until 1990 until the wanderlust took hold and we moved with our family to Melbourne for four years before our return to Godszone!

This time after a spell living rent free courtesy of our daughter we were in a better financial position and able to purchase our present home. In the interim we had purchased a couple of rental flats which appreciated greatly in value which when sold enabled us the freehold the present house. This was our best move to date. I expect our next move will be to a retirement home, which at this stage is a daunting prospect: No doubt it will look easier as time progresses! To date we have been in this present house the best part of twenty-one years, and the accumulation of bits and pieces during that time is the major cause of our dilemma!
Peter G.

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